Well, the year is still seven weeks or so from over but certain things are done for the year. The touring of Celtic Woman is done for 2010, thankfully for them. It was yet another grinder year though it did not seem as bad as 2009 to me. Also done for this year is my first novel, Tales Of The Enchanted Fiddle. Those that know me can certainly guess who the main character and heroine of that book is!
The year began for Máiréad Nesbitt with fiddling in the new year in Berne Switzerland. Some YouTube videos are available though they are from a distance and not quite sure why. In any case, she and her brother Karl performed some wonderful tunes including the Tinker Bell suite. Gee is that appropriate! Máiréad was wearing the second act dress from the Celtic Woman Isle Of Hope Tour. Not one of my favorites but she looks amazing in anything.
Soon enough it was time for the spring tour of Celtic Woman which went from early February into mid May. It began with opening night of the new show in Roanoke. They would perform three nights there and it was a good thing they arrived a few days before as the winter weather was very challenging. There were only minor glitches as they billed these basically dress rehearsals. It was much like what one would find on the Powerscourt DVD but there were some changes. Gone was O America, Pie Jesu, Carolina Rua, and True Colors. Added was an incredible new song performed by Alex Sharpe, My Heart Was Home Again. There were more lumps in throats than in truck stop mashed potatoes!! It was stunning to say the least and at last Alex had a signature song. The other wonderful addition was a coupled pair of duets that made up Songs From The Heart. The first part was a lovely and very moving slow song called Walking The Night performed by the demur Lynn Hilary and Alex. That was followed by a fine Uilleann pipe bridge by Tommy Martin then a Lisa Kelly and Chloe Agnew upbeat song called Take My Hand. Lynn and Alex reappear later and it ends with a marvelous climax. Brilliant and beautiful and very moving. All three shows were very good and we had a meet & greet the first night with Lisa and Chloe. You should have seen them grabbing at the Cadbury's flakes that got laid in front of them!! Too cute. Another treat is the addition of outstanding bagpiper Anthony Byrne. Not only is he in the show but he performs in the lobby after each show! Nice touch and welcome!
My next adventure was to bowl the nationals again in Reno. My favorite place to do that and I cashed again. This would be my 25th nationals and my last. I began back in the 1980's and only failed to cash twice. It was a way to stay in contact with old friends from Nebraska but there is far too much now on my plate to continue.
Mid April saw me in Florida for a pair of shows in Jacksonville and St. Petersburg. Reason? Máiréad's birthday of course! There was not a meet & greet in St. Pete so that is why Jacksonville. Seats were not very good for the pledge but the main thing was to deliver birthday goodies to Máiréad and Lynn as well as outfit the remaining ladies with personalized fiddler crossing jackets. Now they could look just like Máiréad! Well, unlikely they'll see much use but they are very comfy! I sure like mine and it draws plenty of comments. It's all about promoting the pixie! Little did I know it would be the last time I would meet Alex as a Celtic Woman. St. Pete we had the absolute best seats in the house in a very nice venue. Perfect for what I had planned for the birthday girl! I made sure to chat with plenty of folks before the show and at intermission and it all went off just fine. Just before Máiréad introduces You Raise Me Up (BTW, each girl introduces a song now which is new to this tour and a lovely treat) as the applause die down we launch into singing happy birthday! The expression and her body language was priceless and it was so fun to give that to her. Now how often does that happen at a concert?!
I had one more show in Spokane towards the end of the tour mainly to take some friends to see the show in person and conduct some business. Weather was dicey flying in and we had to circle west of the airport for half an hour while a severe storm pounded away. Still a wild landing. The show was good as always and my seat decent. But it would be the last time I saw Alex Sharpe perform as a member of Celtic Woman. Alex departed the group right after the tour to spend time with family at home. The right decision to be sure as being part of that group gives you virtually no life outside of it. The money people see to that as their appetite is voracious and they will use up and burn out people and care not a wit. Alex can now return to the stage on her own terms and in her own time. Her two years with Celtic Woman and the appearance on the SFTH DVD were good exposure and she built a nice following.
The ladies have an all too short break then fly to Australia to promote their upcoming inaugural tour. I could not attend any of the events but Liv's dad Kim did and took video of the performances at a mall in Penrith west of Sydney. Aussie fan Karina complimented it with great photos. Add to that a few promotional photos and a couple recorded interviews and it was a nice treat. The ladies then went home for another too short break then would launch into a two month summer tour in North America. But it would be only four girls for he first time in the history of the group. What would that be like?
Summer tour starts in Canada but I and others join them the first night in the states outside Buffalo. I attended all four shows in The Empire State. Yes, I followed the same squirrely schedule they did criss crossing the state. Sorry, not good for the artists and I can't believe it is helpful to the bottom line. But neither the artists nor we who support them have a choice if we are to do what we do. It is stifling at Art Park and the ladies are melting. They pull it off no worries as always though. I almost missed the show though as I carried no cash to get back across the bridge at Niagara Falls from Canada! Whew, a nice lady at duty free gave me fifty cents! Silly. Then it was over to Bethel aka Woodstock and the dream venue for many an artist. A fine museum tour shared by supporter and artist alike was followed by a great show which at the end mother nature (or the ghosts of Woodstock) joined in!! Wow. Next up back across the state to Rochester and of course the weather broke and we are indoors! Best seats and interactions of the four shows! Finally we are in Saratoga Springs with a nice evening outdoors. We wrap it up with a forum chat in a restaurant parking lot under a full moon until the wee hours. I had meet & greet all four nights and it was perfect as I met each of them twice again.
Something very special then happened and i finished the novel I had begun after Red Rocks in 2009. I wrote whole chapters a day and finished it the 13th day of the 13th month since it began. Now to get it into the hands of the intended one who inspired it.
A month gap and then Albuquerque where it all began for me in 2007. This was my 50th show and the Máiréad forum folks went to great lengths to make it very special. I can't thank everyone enough for their kindness. But the biggest surprise came from the stage when Máiréad brought out the green Incredibow briefly in the second act to signify the special night. What a lovely thing to do. She is the best! Second night was on another level too as we helped a young single mother and her daughter get meet & greet as we had a couple extra. They already had great seats and Chloe even pointed out the little girl, Charlotte, at the end. Very sweet. Meet & greet was with Lisa and Máiréad and I thanked the latter for that lovely act of kindness the night before. It was another nice pair of nights with fine forum folks but a big finale was coming up. Red Rocks. Favorite venue of Celtic Woman and the best place to wrap up a tour as long as the weather cooperates. A huge multi-forum lunch started it off which was great. Some opted to stay away which is sad. Some folks just can't get over things. Their loss. Weather was good and it was a fine send off marred by a couple things. The lighting was the worst I had ever seen and it was clear the spotlight people had not been rehearsed. The other was Madstone Mitch bringing in his tattoo parlor buddies from that day that he gave free tickets and meet & greet to. They were vulgar and crude during the show with many inappropriate comments. they then butted right in then tried to come back for seconds until ushered out of the room. Not a perfect night by any means but still a fine show and it was an all paid forum meet & greet which is a first.
The final adventure of 2010 would be another trip down under. I had been there for a month over the holidays in 2008-9 staying with Liv and her family and creating songs. I so wanted to go back. Heck I didn't want to leave! In any case more of the very generous forum spirit came through and I was blessed with yet another trip. First off though a couple days in LA to spend with an amazing artist in his own right and his mom. Glenn Skinner is a marvelous sketch artist and has done some stunners of the Celtic Woman ladies. I call him rollin' Rembrandt. His mom was a good cook and between her and a nice dinner in Santa Monica, courtesy of another forum member, we were well fed. I spent one afternoon reading my novel to all gathered and they seemed very happy with it. It was a labor of love and meant for one specific little fiddler. Soon we were winging our way to Oz on Qantas and ready for an amazing couple weeks.
Sydney was our first show but not Celtic Woman's. They began in Newcastle the night before. That is right up near where the Grittens live. Oh well. Anyway we meet up day of show with two delightful Aussie gals and then dinner at an Irish pub with them and the entire Gritten mob. Liv is front row with us for the show but here we also have a pre-show cocktail and nibble with other fans. We brought tons of material to promote Máiréad with 130 fiddler crossing signs, cards, Oz tour buttons from Nichole, and a huge banner she created to have signed. The reaction from the artists when they see familiar faces from the states was funny! Thank you but you're crazy!! Ray actually said that with a laugh later in Melbourne! The show is great in front of a good sized crowd. We gave the delightful Sarah Burke a little birthday surprise too. Meet & greet is with all four ladies and photos are allowed. That in addition to a free autographed program, VIP pass on a lanyard, breast cancer awareness ribbon, a bottle of water, and more free drinks. Talk about bang for the buck!!! Yes Ovation channel you do it right!! Much better than Madstone in the states who are stingy with everything including time. Yeah its an elite NYC industry attitude. too bad as the artists themselves aren't like that at all. Good thing. Best thing though was handing each lady a rose and a poem with M getting the book laid right into her hands. She and Lisa had a great deal of fun with it and me. We got a bit of mileage out of that in later shows too!
Next few days are spent at Lake MacQuarie with the Grittens. BTW, train travel is very affordable as is bus. Not much else in Oz is though!! We have a treat and Liv and her band Skyepoint perform a live gig for us our first night there! Liv is still amazing and her blokes Tom and Tim and nice guys and gifted artists. They will be a known group sooner rather than later. Thank you for that Livvy! We spend one day driving around the large salt water lake and stopping up in Newcastle, and the next day out on Kim's boat with me doing my best Gilligan imitation. Skipper!!!!!! We get nice and toasted too! Then it is off for the long train trip to Melbourne. BTW, most days Irish weather follows the gorls just as in the states. It just so happened a decade long drought in Oz ended while they were there!! Coincidence? I think not.
We are in the bay side suburb of St. Kilda for the three Melbourne shows. We meet up with more forum folks from Japan, Canada, and Australia and have a great three shows. First night we had perfect seats and lots of fun. Well, until an old grump behind us gets huffy about us standing for Spanish Lady. Sourpuss. In fact the next two shows Chloe did not tell the audience she wanted them up on their feet! Yeah really too bad. Oh well. Meet & greet was special as I presented Máiréad with a copy of the Oxfam check from her forum. She was surprised and delighted. Next night we have a bar code glitch on out tickets but Ovation gets it fixed in time for us to get up to the pre-show. Third day is an afternoon show. Each show we were promoting like crazy and talking with everyone we could. Lots of folks signed the banner which was then shipped overnight to Nichole for the Brisbane finale. It was announced there that guitarist Des Moore was leaving. He is outstanding and will be missed. Thanks for the great work and memories, Des. It was marvelous each night and we sure would go back when they do. Although I have a funny feeling there won't be quite as much bang for the buck next time.
Within a couple days we are heading back to the states. It wrapped up quite a year for me and no doubt a memorable one for my favorite artists. Now they and I get a break. Me back to reality and they a blessed time of rest and reflection. What will 2011 bring? Something tells me there will be a lot of surprises. Main thing is to cherish each day and what you have. 2010 would not have been possible for me without some amazing forum friends and others. Thank you. And none of this would be possible without a certain pixie fiddler who owns my heart and carries it around in her fiddle case. God bless you Máiréad, and have a great break. See you all next year.